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Plans for the new children's hospital at the St James's campus in Dublin.
Plans for the new children's hospital at the St James's campus in Dublin.
Image: NCH

Children's hospital costs like a 'runaway train' as they rocket to €1bn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the debate about where the new children’s hospital should be built is “finished”.
Nov 16th 2016, 11:48 AM 18,667 76

COSTS OF THE new children’s hospital “are like a runaway train” having more than doubled to €1 billion, the Dáil has heard.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the original estimate for the hospital was €480 million, but costs are set to exceed €1 billion.

McGrath said what is staggering about the figure is that it excludes the cost of any fit-out or IT equipment.

“We all know the cost of fit-out and equipment for hospitals. It costs millions and millions,” he said.

While he said he accepted that original budgets are liable to be exceeded, the figure quoted is “phenomenal and staggering and must be reined in”, he said.

image003 Plans for the new children's hospital in Dublin. Source: NCH

“Does the Taoiseach want to be remembered in 25 or 30 years time for a report into this waste and these absurd costs? This is the kind of runaway cost that not only threatens to deliver a disastrously located hospital that will put children’s lives in danger – I do not say that lightly.

“There is something rotten here and the Taoiseach mentioned runaway trains. This is a runaway train of costs and a memo from any minister is not going to stop it,” he said.

Memo on costs 

Kenny said the Health Minister Simon Harris and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Donohoe are due to bring a memo to Cabinet on the costs of the hospital.

“The issues raised in general about the range and costs will be central to that memo. Specifically, there will be a focus on the value-for-money process involved.”

He said the project “is in the interests of all the children of this island for the next two generations at least”.

image011 Plans for the new children's hospital. Source: NCH

McGrath told the Taoiseach that he should “pinch himself” in relation to the ”staggering figures”.

This cannot be allowed to continue because we will end up having inquiries about it in here in years to come.

Connolly The 145 acre green field site the Connolly for Kids group say would be a more suitable location for the new children's hospital. Source: Connolly for Kids

The Connolly for Kids campaign, a group calling for the children’s hospital to be built on a green field site just off the M50 motorway, fundamentally disagree with the suitability of the location on the St James’s Hospital campus.

McGrath told Kenny the group feels it has been “treated with contempt by successive governments”.

Kenny took a firm line in relation to criticisms about the location of the hospital.

image009 Patient rooms planned for the new children's hospital at the St James's site.

The Taoiseach said the decision on the hospital’s location has been made and the work is proceeding on the St James’s site.

The decision was made after years of discussion about the principle of building a national children’s hospital and the location where it should be built. That argument is finished and a decision has been made.
The application has been granted planning permission and has been approved by An Bord Pleanála. A fabulous site at St. James’s Hospital was chosen in 2012.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Donohoe said the government we fully committed to the project and acknowledged that “tendering costs are changing”.

He said the there were “exhaustive” debates about where to locate the hospital, and a final decision has been reached.

“This is the right location for it we are determined it goes ahead.”

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Christina Finn

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